NAC: Towards a Parallel Government
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

One of the most critical decisions the Congress party had to take, after Sonia Gandhi “renounced” her claim to the post of Prime Minister, was this: how to credit her for flagship schemes of UPA?

And that was why the National Advisory Council was born.

The NAC apparently has been set up as an “interface for civil society”. If you are wondering why the government, elected by the people (“civil society”), needs another institution for interfacing with the very same people that elected it – please stop thinking logically ! And remember members of the NAC are “distinguished professionals” drawn from the civil society.This council has “advised” the government on NREGA, RTI and the Forest Rights Act; so now you see how this works – it was Sonia Gandhi who is responsible for all the flagship schemes (ofcourse if implementation is screwed up, the government is always ready to take the blame!).

And then the “Office of profit” controversy happened. Sonia Gandhi had to “renounce” power – again! She quit all her ‘offices of profit’ , and by the way the NAC Chair was now declared exempt from office of profit! Sonia retook the mantles of the NAC after the UPA victory in 2009 and took credit for the National Food Security Bill.

One distinguished member of NAC, Jean Dreze has written a detailed article in The Hindu, complaining about the lack of co-operation from the government! He details how NAC works so hard on doling out free stuff to maximum possible people of this country, and how the government is so much reluctant to even “lend an ear” to this esteemed council. Why would it? The NAC is recommending Rice@Rs.2 per kg and Wheat@Rs.3 per kg for people below poverty line. And then it wants people above poverty line also be partially covered. Overall – it wants 75% of the population to be covered under this law !! Yes people – 75% of the population will be getting 35kgs of Rice and Wheat @ Rs. 2 and Rs.3 per kg!

The subsidy involved in this is HUGE.

And “huge” is an understatement. And the money for this subsidy comes through taxes that you and I pay. And as the subsidy increases, taxes will increase. Essentially, you and I will pay more so that 75% of the population will get that subsidy. Rs.2 per kg in the 21st century is such a ridiculous idea. Ofcourse, NAC thinks otherwise. Thankfully the committee appointed by the government (yes believe it or not, there is a committee to study what the NAC “advised”!) rejected the proposal.

Fellow blogger, KVSarmaJ has written a very nice piece on this whole proposal here.
And then if you think the suggestion ends here – you are mistaken. The NAC has also proposed a redress mechanism. It proposes a parallel authority to the District Collector, and “anyone” can approach this authority at district and block level. Isn’t the District Collector supposed to be approachable to “anyone”? Why is the NAC hell bent on creating parallel structures just like itself? Who gave them the mandate to think of such ridiculous proposals and then go to town when they are rejected?

And then there is a BIG political story here.

Sonia Gandhi led NAC is totally dis-satisfied with the government’s response to their proposals. So much that a member writes an article in national newspapers. Did that article have Madam’s approval? If so, is this her veiled attack at the Prime Minister? If not, how come a member can go so ballistic against the government – even accuse it of sabotaging its ideas and go scot-free? Is the stage being set for laying the blame solely at the PM’s door, if this act fails?

Are these not questions the media should ask?

Wait a minute…. media asking questions did I say? Apologies.